Governor Andrew Cuomo was in Montauk Thursday to visit the commercial fishing fleet and call on the federal government to reform summer flounder regulations he says are unfair to New York fishermen.
Cuomo said the state is prepared to sue over the limits set by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Fisher Management Plan. New York has more restrictive limits imposed on it than neighboring states, according to Cuomo’s office.
In his letter to the Department of Commerce, Cuomo wrote, “[W]e cannot tolerate a management plan that limits an angler on the New York side of Raritan Bay to four fish with a minimum size of 19.5 inches but allows a New Jersey angler fishing the same water body to harvest five fish of only 17.5 inches or that limits a New Yorker fishing the north shore of Long island to four fish with a minimum size of 19.5 inches but permits a Connecticut angler to take five fish of 17.5 inches from the Sound. This situation makes no sense.”
In 2011 a total of 1.4 million pounds of summer flounder, or fluke, were brought in to New York shores at a value of $3.4 million, while if the state were treated the same as other states, it could have brought in 4 million pounds valued at $9.8 million, Cuomo’s office stated.
“The commercial and recreational fishing industries are a major economic engine in Long Island and New York State, but they are being unfairly limited by these outdated bureaucratic regulations,” Cuomo said. “The federal formula utilizes decade-old information, putting New York at a disadvantage to neighboring states and ignoring the communities and personal livelihoods of local fishermen who are losing money every day.”
He called on the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to conduct a major reassessment.
“The U.S. Department of Commerce needs to reform the status quo – and if they don’t, our state will have no choice but to go to court to defend New York’s commercial and recreational fishing industries,” the governor said.
“Long Island’s fishing industry is one of our state’s proudest traditions, and a major source of jobs, income, and opportunity for people throughout the state,” added New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “The federal quotas create an unfair, competitive disadvantage that jeopardizes a vital industry. … There should be one set of rules for everyone, and I will use every tool at my disposal to ensure an even playing field for our workers.”
Congressman Tim Bishop, of Southampton, said he supports the governor’s efforts, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone thanked Cuomo for calling on the federal government to “eliminate the arbitrary disparity.”